Ask the Paramedic

Safety Corner

Pride Care Ambulance presents:  Ask the Paramedic

“Why did the medics put my Mom on a board? She only fell a short distance.”

This is just one of the many questions that have been asked of Pride Care employees from the residents we have taken care of over the years.  In order to provide folks with a better understanding, the rationale behind many of the procedures     Paramedics and EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) use while responding to emergency medical needs will be addressed in Today’s Question.

Today’s Question: 

My friend has been hospitalized recently after suffering a stroke. She was fixing dinner and fell as though she was losing her balance. Her husband was able to catch her before she fell and helped her lie down. When he asked what was wrong, my friend seemed confused, and when he couldn't understand what she was saying, her husband called 911. The doctors said she was extremely lucky because her husband acted so quickly and called 911. Why was it so important to get her to the hospital so quickly? What are other signs and symptoms of a stroke?


Strokes happen when a blood vessel carrying blood and oxygen to the brain is either blocked or bursts causing damage to the tissue of the brain. For a paramedic the term "time is brain" quickly comes to mind. In other words, the less time that elapses between the time the stroke occurred and specialized treatment, the better the chances for recovery.

Signs and symptoms of a stroke include; sudden slurred speech, numbness or weakness (especially if it occurs on only one side of the body), difficulty walking, trouble seeing, and a severe headache occurring suddenly with no reason for it. Here are some other things a paramedic will ask when they arrive; how long ago did this episode begin, is there a family history of strokes, and what medications is the patient taking?

According to the Center for Disease Control, use FAST when you suspect a person may be having a stroke:

"Face: Does the face look uneven? Ask them to smile."

"Arm: Does one arm drift down? Ask them to raise both arms."

"Speech: Does their speech sound strange? Ask them to repeat a phrase."

"Time: Every second brain cells are dying. Call 911 at any sign of a stroke."

Brian Florey, CCEMT-P

Brian has been a paramedic for CEMS/Pride Care Ambulance since 2007. 

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